February 26 – March 26, 2009
Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)
This exhibit highlights the photography exploration of 36 students from the University of Paderborn, who document both the visible and invisible remnants of the Berlin Wall in modern-day Germany. Under the direction of of Prof. Dr. Barbara Becker and photographer Jürgen Spiler at the Institute for Media Science at the University of Paderborn the exhibit came to life in the course of a photo-practical seminar.
Over the years traces of the wall have become scarce as new structures have been built over the wall’s remains. Aided by historical texts and images, the students located forgotten wall fragments, abandoned watch towers and mental traces of a “wall in the mind”. The city has grown more and more together, and many locations where the Wall or the border strip used to run are now buried under buildings and no longer recognizable as what they once were.
Still, the Wall lives on, not only in places “reconditioned” for tourism, at which material remnants of the Berlin Wall can still be viewed, but also in the self-image of the city, its residents and visitors – as an icon of the Cold War, the separation of Germany, and as a symbol and commemoration of personal destinies and suffering.
Starting with historic photos documenting the building of the Wall, and texts in which the Wall finds a voice, the students attempted to ferret out the atmospheres of the past. They researched where and from what perspective these photos had been taken in order to “document” with present photos, taken from a similar perspective, what has remained of these historically significant sites. For this exhibit, these photos generated during the research for remnants of the Wall were mounted on fifteen panels and supplemented with texts authored by the students themselves. Audio recordings, meant to provide an aural background fro the visual reception, can be listened to through stereophonic headphones, permitting a virtual immersion in Berlin, still “coloured” by its past.